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close this bookGATE - 3/91 - Impact - A Neglected Dimension of AT (GTZ GATE, 1991, 52 p.)
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View the documentThe impact of appropriate technology - A neglected dimension
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View the documentPlanning, observing, steering - Participative impact monitoring
View the documentParticipative planning and evaluation - Expensive in the short term, cost effective in the long term
View the documentThe forgotten overall goal
View the documentAn effective tool for project development
View the documentCreative cooperation demands mutual understanding

Participative planning and evaluation - Expensive in the short term, cost effective in the long term

by Robert Kressirer

Evaluation presupposes planning. If we are going to evaluate something, assess it in retrospect, we must have some form of objectives or plan with which we can compare the situation. This also holds true for participative evaluation in which, as the name suggests, a participative element is also included.

What is the situation though in GTZ assisted projects? Are they participatively planned? In other words are the people directly affected by the project included in the planning process,oristhisataskonlyforproject staff? No comprehensive findings are available on which we could base a judgment, but a general trend can be seen from numerous individual discussions with project staff.

Before we go on to look at experience in practice, however, a brief description of the planning procedure which the GTZ has employed for several years now should be made.

Objectives-oriented project planning - ZOPP

In 1983 the ZOPP procedure was introduced and made obligatory for all GTZ-assisted projects and programmes. ZOPP is a procedure under which planning is detailed in a step by step procedure from the so-called ZOPP 1 to ZOPP 5, but it is more than that. It aims to achieve

· a team approach

· a visual illustration of the problems and potential solutions

· a process orientation

by a process of several consecutive analyses.

The first analysis to be performed under the ZOPP procedure is the participation analysis, which is followed by the problem analysis, the objectives analysis and the analysis of alternatives. Once one option (or alternative as it is called in ZOPP) has been decided on, a project planning matrix (PPM) is drawn up. The results of the ZOPP planning workshop serve as a proposal for decision-makers and are then used as the basis for project implementation (with or without modifications).

The participation of the partner country, and the target group in particular takes place step by step. The first workshop, ZOPP 1, is held at the GTZ Head Office. The application from the partner country is examined to see if it is "eligible and feasible for promotion"-in other words is it compatible with the development policy of the Federal Republic of Germany. It is established whether or not the data given in the application are sufficient to understand the partner country's project idea, and decided whether or not the German contribution is feasible and expedient.

All ZOPP planning workshops thereafter are held in the partner country. In ZOPP 2 external appraisers are initiated into the focal areas of the appraisal. Following the appraisal in the partner country during which existing contacts to potential project executing agencies and to the target group are often strengthened, a ZOPP 3 workshop is held. At this workshop the project partners (the project executing agency, representatives of the target group, GTZ staff and the appraisers) draw up a provisional project concept, which is then used as the basis for the decision-making process in the partner country, and for the offer which the GTZ submits to the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation (BMZ). If the Ministry decides in favour of the project it commissions the GTZ with implementation of the German contribution. In the partner country the project executing agency is determined, and a government agreement between the partner country and the Federal Republic of Germany provides the political framework for activities.

After a brief period (6 - 9 months) of familiarisation with the tasks and the problems, a ZOPP 4 workshop is held in the partner country. Prior to this, contact is established between the locally contracted and seconded staff and the state agencies, and, as a top priority, to the target group or target groups. Within the project the process of team building also starts at this time.

At the ZOPP 4 workshop the rough planning is worked out in more detail and is operationalised. Prior to this workshop or at the workshop itself the target group can and must participate in formulating the plans. Later in this article it will be discussed what this means in practice. The workshop lasts some 3-10 days during which the planning takes on a concrete form, on the basis of the results of planning workshops 1 to 3 and of up-to-date information.

After 2-4 years of implementation a thorough review of the project must be performed (e.g. on the basis of a project progress review) and a revised or updated plan produced within the scope of a ZOPP 5 workshop.

Participative planning possible as from ZOPP 3

This brief overview of the five steps of the ZOPP procedure may give the impression that the interests and fears of the target group have, at best, a marginal role to play in planning, and that their participation is likewise minimal. This is, however, not the case. At the latest, as from ZOPP 3 planning can be performed on a participative basis and thus a foundation can be laid for participative evaluation.

In practice problems tend to arise more because of unfavourable general conditions or because the procedure is not properly applied than because of any inherent deficits or gaps in the ZOPP procedure per se.

A wide variety of groups and persons attend a ZOPP workshop, from representatives of the target group, to civil servants from the relevant state authorities, to ministers, project staff members and GTZ representatives. In practice it is too much to expect of the representatives of the target group that they be willing and able to express their interests and fears, their problems and wishes in an appropriate form in such a forum. It is therefore the job of the project staff to integrate the target group or target groups prior to the workshop, which is in practice often dominated by decision-makers.

Participative planning at village level

According to the information we have received from project staff participative planning is being performed more and more. Specific problems such as the infrastructure, water supply, health etc. are discussed in small planning workshops, e.g. in individual viIlages, before the actual ZOPP workshop and the results are recorded. These are then introduced at the "real" workshop in an appropriate form.

Another approach has been tested, for example, in one rural development project in the north-west of Zambia. Some 4,000 widely scattered small farmers who collect honey and wax from wild bees as either their principal source of income or as a secondary income, have been organized in small groups. In order to integrate them in the planning of the "beekeeping" component of the project, large beekeeping conferences were held with between 200 and 400 representatives of the small farmers attending. In this way the project was able to plan activities in line with the wishes and needs of the target group, and at each conference the previous phase was also evaluated.

Planning and evaluation must go hand in hand

The link between planning and evaluation is very clear here. In the launch stage of a new project only planning can be performed with the target group. Once the first activities have taken place though, the process evaluation of the previous phase, planning of the next phase is repeated time after time.

Because of the scarcity of available resources projects have to continually observe and assess their activities and the impacts thereof. The project planning matrix and the plan of operations form a basis for monitoring and evaluation. Just as the target group or target groups can be integrated into planning, monitoring too can be performed on a participative basis.

In another regional rural development project in Asia, for example, the planned project activities were publicized on large charts at a specified place in the villages of the project region. At regular intervals discussions were held between the project staff and the villagers, at which the latter told the project team whether or not the planned activities were actually being performed, and how the quality of activities was assessed.

Approaches like this towards a participative evaluation should not, and indeed must not be limited to project activities. At the impact level it is even more imperative that the target group or groups be integrated. Projects are designed to help solve specific problems of a certain group of people, in other words they are designed to have an impact. The impacts formulated in the project purpose and objectives are given a concrete shape in the form of relevant indicators.

So, how can the target group be integrated into the evaluation? How can we really determine whether or not the project has had really positive impacts for them? This depends partly on the formulations of the indicators and partly on the way information is collected.

Lots of ways to evaluate participatively

For the first question, the obvious answer is to formulate impacts at project purpose level as the benefit the target group has from the project activities. For example the provision of consultancy services, or the number of applications for credit for appropriate post-harvest protection technology can be taken as a way of measuring the actual benefit of the project activity "technology development, testing, prototype construction etc. "

At the level of the overall goal the impact can be defined as the benefit accruing to the target group as a result of utilising the service offered by the project, e.g. reduction in post-harvest losses, higher income by marketing processed primary products etc.

There are many procedures which can be used in order to integrate the target group. Methods vary from the passive integration by means of random interviews to obtain data, the so called rapid rural appraisal, to the active participation of the target group in a wide variety of possible approaches such as, for example, group discussions, small-scale workshops, roll playing and theatre.

If participation is to be given sufficient consideration in the process of project planning and implementation the following must be taken into account:

· Participative evaluation should take place on the basis of participative planning.

· Participative evaluation covers the assessment of project activities, but also, and primarily, the impacts of the project on the target group.

· Participative evaluation is not something for a one-day event, it is a continuous process.

Participation increases the costs of project implementation since the procedure of decision-making will become more time-consuming and thus more costly with the increased numbers involved in the decision making process. In the long term, however, this procedure should prove to be more cost-effective than the traditional top-down planning, since the results will be more sustainable.

When the target group or target groups are integrated into the project planning and implementation at early stage, the chances of activities being continued and innovations being accepted are considerably increased.


This article starts by explaining the planning procedure which has been used by the GTZ for many years - objectives-oriented project planning or ZOPP. The author goes on to look at the ways of incorporating the target group in planning and evaluation, and concludes that ZOPP as a method does take account of the participative e/ement The article also looks at participative evaluation and various approaches to it.


Cet article commente en premier lieu la methode de planification des projets emplayee depuis des annees par la GTZ, a saoir la planification des projet par objectifs (ZOPP). A la lumiere de cette derniere, I'auteur examine les possibilites de participation des groupes cibles et arrive a la conclusion que cette methode de planification tient parfaitement compte de l'element participatif. L´evaluation participative ainsi que diverses approches s'y rapportant sont egalement traitees dans cet article.


En laprimeraparte del articulo se explica el metodo de planificacion de proyectos que viene aplicando desde hace anos la GTZ, conocido como Planificacion de Proyectos Orientada a Objectivos (ZOPP). Partiendo de esta explicacion, el autor analiza las posibilidades que tienen los grupos destinatarios de tomar parte en los proyectos y de participar activamente en su estructuracion. Terminado el analisis, llega a la conclusion de que el metodo ZOPP tiene en cuenta debidamente el elemento participativo. En el articulo se discuten, ademas, la evaluacion participativa y distintos enfoques para su realizacion.